Florida State fans will be watching two recruiting announcements Wednesday and Thursday, both at 2 EST. A previous edition of this article said that both were committing Wednesday, as I had Francois erroneously slated for Wednesday. Francois is Thursday.
Shane Simmons, a 2016 elite defensive end prospect out of Dematha Catholic, in D.C. Simmons is believed to be picking from FSU and Penn State. I can see this going either way. Penn State has historically recruited D.C. very well, and the hype around that area with new coach James Franklin is very real. But Simmons has made two trips on his own dime to Tallahassee in as many years, and FSU has quite a few players from the DMV and the Beltway, including Brock Ruble (former teammate of Simmons), Eddie Goldman, Ronald Darby and E.J. Levenberry. Simmons has connected with defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri, as well.
Thursday: Deondre Francois, the four-star QB out of the IMG Academy. Francois, formerly of Olympia HS in Orlando, is down to Auburn and Florida State, and has made multiple visits to both. My pick is Florida State, due to him being close with other players committed, or believed to be heading to FSU, and the desire to play in a pro-style offense. But I haven't been told that he is for sure coming by anyone on either staff.
As Florida State fans await the announcements, it's worth checking in on the recruiting efforts of some rivals. For comparison purposes, we should note that Florida State is listed at most places as having 15 commitments, 6 of which are blue chips. That's below FSU's recent blue chip ratio, but FSU has a lot more star players who are considered locks than any of the teams I'll be discussing below.
Clemson is going for its fourth-consecutive 10-win season, which is plenty impressive, and perhaps a bit overshadowed by its annual loss to South Carolina, and FSU's better play over that span.
On the recruiting trail, the Tigers are doing pretty well. They currently have 22 commitments, 9 of which are considered to be blue chips (four- or five-stars) by the 247sports composite. That's 41 percent, which is right in line with what Clemson has signed over its last four classes (42.4 percent L4). And I suspect a few of the three-stars will get bumps to four-star status as they are evaluated more during their senior seasons. This looks to be the best class, on paper, that Clemson has signed under Dabo Swinney. Notably, it has some better linemen than Clemson has signed in previous years.
Clemson has beaten out Florida State for several prospects this year, including tight end Garrett Williams (a legacy at FSU), and receiver Deon Cain. FSU was also in on WR/RB/Slash Ray Ray McCloud and DE Austin Bryant.
The Tigers are setting themselves up to battle Florida State better than any other school in the ACC.
Florida is basically the opposite of Clemson. It's current class is not very good at all. It has only eight commitments, and only three of them are blue chips. Very few of Florida's commitments would be accepted as commitments at Florida State right now.
Florida's recruiting efforts right now are all about potential. The coaching staff is aiming high. Really high. It's hot after five-stars like OT Martez Ivey, DE Byron Cowart, DE CeCe Jefferson and ATH George Campbell, as well as four-stars like LB Jeff Holland, RB Dexter Williams (Miami commit), LB Adonis Thomas, LB Roquan Smith, OL Matthew Burrell, OL Isaiah Prince, OL Abdul Bello (FSU commitment), OL Jalen Merrick, S Jaquan Johnson and a few more.
What Florida needs on the field to reel in the big fish are wins and points.
Florida's most likely records according to Vegas and various statistical models are, in order: 8-4, 7-5, 9-3, 6-6. If the Gators are able to get to 9-3 (or perhaps 8-4 while scoring touchdowns on offense and having a renewed energy), it can cash in on a lot of these top players.
If, however, 7-5 or 6-6 happen, they will likely miss on a lot of those and Will Muschamp probably won't be around, which means that a new coach will come in and sign some good players because that's what happens when a new coach (say Kliff Kingsbury or Dan Mullen, for instance) gets the reins to a power program and brings in a lot of hype with him.
Miami's recruiting efforts this year are somewhat overrated. The Hurricanes have 22 commitments, and only four are rated as blue chips. And all four blue chips are running backs. That's a disappointing 18 percent blue chip ratio. Over the last four classes, Miami has brought in 31 percent blue chip prospects. I expect some of Miami's signees to get bumps to four-star ratings, but right now, Miami has a lot more quantity than quality, and it doesn't have that much room left in its class.
18 percent, or even the previous four-year average of 31 percent, is simply not elite. Miami is also in on stars like WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama commit), S Jaquan Johnson, ATH Tim Irvin, TE Devonaire Clarington and some other kids, and we'll see if they can pull them, but that still might not be enough. The next elite class Miami signs under Al Golden will be his first, and the Hurricanes need to win more games on the field as the excuses about the NCAA start to resonate less and less.